A Little Grace Goes A Long Way

A few weeks ago I was rushing around the house getting ready to leave for our two week vacation.  We would be flying out and the kids and I would be driving back in a new-to-us van.  I tried hard that week to not procrastinate, to get everything done, to not stress myself out at the last minute--you know, my usual MO.  I did have most everything packed a couple days in advance, but my house was a complete disaster.  I had neglected laundry for far too long.  To make it worse I had decided to go through all the kids' and my clothes that didn't fit and organize them.  Which meant adding them to the pile of laundry.  It was boxes and boxes of clothes.  The carpet in the kids' room was hidden beneath a layer of clothes.  The kids had so many toys in the toy room that I was trying to organize the toy room and get rid of half of the toys.  The kids rarely played in there because of the disorganization and lack of room to move and it's a big room.  Even at my house's cleanest it looked cluttered.  I just do not have the gift of organization and housekeeping.  I was upset and embarrassed and stressed out and felt like a total and complete failure.

It was so important to me to have the house in presentable shape because a friend had insisted on getting the keys to the house to help me organize while I was gone.  I was embarrassed that I couldn't do it on my own.  But, at the advice of another friend, I took the help.  My angel of a friend drove us to the airport that day.  I commissioned to my husband (who himself has memory problems) to remember the baby's birth certificate to proof his age to the airline.  There were too many things for me to remember and I knew I would not remember that.  Everyone was waiting on me at the end because I had forgotten to load movies onto the iPad in advance and was waiting on that.  Finally I rushed out the door and jumped into the car and off we went.  Half way to the airport I asked my husband about the birth certificate.  He had forgotten. We had to turn around and go back.  When we did we saw the door to the house was wide open.  I hadn't shut it.  I was leaving for a two week vacation and didn't shut the door.  My husband was not very happy with me, I wasn't very happy with myself.  I nearly broke down in tears.

My vacation was hectic.  It was great to see my family, to have all our kids together at the same time.  To see the grandparents so happy with the kids.  However, it was so hard for me.  I was stressed out trying to pick up after myself and the kids and to watch what I said to my parents and sister.  They tend to be very sensitive and of course I tend to say things without thinking or things that are taken the wrong way.  I was very glad to be on my way home, to say the least.  Because of unfortunate circumstances and background some in my family have issues they haven't faced.  Everyone is expected to accept it with grace and patience, and I do so willingly and not begrudgingly.  However, very rarely do I meet with grace when something I say or do is taken the wrong way with my family.  I'm not sure why this is.  Perhaps it's because they don't buy into the whole ADD thing.  Perhaps they refuse to believe anyone would have bigger issues than they do.  Perhaps it is because my husband suffers from PTSD and they don't understand it.  Whatever it is, both my husband and I see very little grace and understanding from my family.  This is a major stressor in my life.  Unfortunately, I have enough stressors in my life.  It can very well be the cause of the problems that just had me hooked up to a 30 day 24/7 heart monitor.

It's hard enough for me to keep from taking my own frustrations out on the kids, keeping from being patient and understanding with them.  I don't want my children to think that I'm not there for them, that they have to walk on eggshells around me as I had to growing up.  I want to pour grace and patience and understanding into their lives and let them know I will always believe in them.  So I had to make a decision.  It's not because I don't love my family.  I do.  I don't think they'll realize how much and how much I appreciate each one of them.  However, now I have my own little family to worry about and to protect.  My husband is my husband for life.  He and our kids depend on me.  I cannot allow extra stress to affect that.  I can't allow extra stress into their lives.  So I have decided to stop bending over backwards to accommodate anyone, family or not.  I mean the best but yet still end up offending.  I tread carefully and think about the impact of each word I say, and I am still the bad guy.  My husband works hard to help and show he cares and he is met with no benefit of the doubt.  And yet we are expected to go out of our way to show grace and forgiveness and no hard feelings.  I don't mind doing that...however, I expect the same grace and forgiveness and no hard feelings.  And until I start seeing that I will no longer put myself in a situation where I have to go out of my way to smooth feathers and unfortunately, egos.

The best part of my vacation was that I came home to a wonderfully clean and organized house.  I can't say that I haven't slacked and my dining room table/computer desk isn't covered in papers and toys right now or that I don't have a sink full of dishes, or the toy room is immaculate.  However, I can say that by the end of the day the kitchen will be cleaned, the dining room table pretty much cleared off, and the toys in the toy room picked off the floor.  What I learned this past month is that you can't do everything.  You have to know your weaknesses and try your hardest, make a game plan, work hard to overcome them and not give in to them.  However, you also have to know when to accept help when you need it, when to stand up for yourself and your family, and when you need to say "enough".

If you're reading this because you know someone with ADHD, just remember this: Grace goes a long way.  Trust me, I understand how hard it is sometimes to deal with someone with ADHD.  My husband has Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury due to his tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.  TBI can have a lot of the symptoms of ADD.  I'm pretty sure my 4 year old daughter has ADHD (I recognize so much of myself in her).  I'm homeschooling her because of it.  It is one of the most frustrating and yet rewarding tasks I have ever taken up.  I want to lose my patience with her at times.  I want to ask her "why can't you just focus for a minute??"  And I KNOW why she can't.  Of all people I understand her.  And I still get frustrated.  I have learned to just take a step back, remember what my husband is going through or remember how frustrating learning was for me at my daughter's age.  When I take time to try and understand it is much easier for me to show grace and patience.  What is grace?  In short, realizing that we all make mistakes and harboring no hard feelings toward someone when they do make a mistake or do something that offends you.  Too often we jump to conclusions thinking that that person is doing what they are doing to offend you, oftentimes they have no clue they offended you.  And in my case, I feel badly to know I have offended someone.  Try to be more understanding.

Fortunately for me, I have an advantage when it comes to my ability to show grace to others.  I am so grateful for the grace God has shown to me that it's not hard for me to show grace to others.  I have been freely given the love and favor of God.  He knows my mind, my heart.  I am so insignificant in this world and yet He has taken the time to forgive my shortcomings and blessing me in ways I can't deny was divine.  Because I relate with such a grace I can more freely give grace.  Not to say I'm a deep well of patience, because I'm not.  Fortunately, because of the grace I always try to show my children and husband, they turn around and show me grace when I need it.  I thank God for that too, because I am far from perfect.

~Blessed with Grace~

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